Hesitancies captures the mood of our times—provisionality, uncertainty, doubt. Sanjeev Sethi’s poems held me captive by the sheer virtuosity of his language indulging in tentative excursions into the prism of modern living. The poem titled ‘2021’ bluntly asks questions about Covid-destroyed lives, therefore freshly-minted language: Have we as a collective betrayed ylem?/ The contagion of C-19 validates it/…We have altered vocabulary beyond repair./ The superbious us will have to correct this/or we will be sentenced to the stake. If one is looking for conventional poetry this volume will not offer it but its energy for mapping the “new normal” holds an infectious appeal.
Disquisitions on identity are as old as Plato but we need to refresh the terms. For globetrotters and cosmopolites, or for persons homebound in the pandemic, the self is supremely alone and cautiously guarded. Writes Sethi, I see myself in a supernumerary role/in the film of my fantasy/In meatspace/I’m the protagonist and antagonist. Philosophically speaking such individualism can be stretched to extremes, and what was once the romantic stance of a flâneur is today the cage of self-absorption. Hesitancies catches these conjectural advances of whether or not to associate with others, because love and myriad emotions are also dangerous traps of revelation, of vulnerability. The poem ‘Mist’ effectively illustrates the obscured meanings of love, intimacy, commitment, words from a bygone era of certitudes: